Taipei, June 6 (CNA) Nine people have been charged in a case involving the supply of fake vaccines to pig farmers, the Yunlin District Prosecutors' Office said Tuesday.
The nine individuals were indicted on June 2 on charges of fraud, making and selling counterfeit veterinary drugs, and forging or altering documents - offenses that violate the Veterinary Drugs Control Act and the Criminal Code, according to the prosecutors.
The investigation was launched following the sudden death of a number of piglets in Yunlin and Changhua and after prosecutors received a tipoff in March that dubious pig vaccines were being sold to farmers.
During the investigation, prosecutors found that two men had been purchasing genuine vaccines at a cost of NT$3,750 (US$124) per vial, diluting them with distilled water, and repackaging them.
The two suspects were selling the fake vaccines to animal drug distributors and pig farmers at a price of between NT$3,250 and NT$3,700 per vial, according to prosecutors.
Seven other defendants were also charged in the case because they did not try to verify the source of the vaccines before purchasing them from the two men for distribution, despite the considerably lower price, prosecutors said.
Investigators found that around 7,800 vials of fake vaccines had been sold to 32 pig farmers, and around 393,600 pigs had been injected with the vaccines. Many of the pigs died because the fake vaccines, diluted to 8 percent of the normal strength, could not protect them against porcine circovirus (PCV).
The fake vaccines also contained live bacteria that may have caused infection in the pigs, prosecutors said.
The maximum penalty for making or importing counterfeit veterinary drugs is seven years in prison and a fine of NT$4.5 million, according to the Veterinary Drugs Control Act.
(By Christie Chen and Huang Kuo-fang)ENDITEM/pc